Get the Royal Treatment in Maryland
When it comes to vacations fit for a king, Maryland takes the crown.
As one of the original colonies, Maryland has a history rooted in royalty. Although the state was a leader in the United States’ efforts to sever its ties to the European monarchies, names of counties and cities pay tribute to some of the people who ranked among the “Old Country’s” prominent rulers during Maryland’s early years.
Although many locales bear the names of rulers in some form or another -- for example, Maryland itself was named for Queen Henrietta Maria, the wife of Charles I of England -- only a handful actually include the titles “Prince,” “Princess” or “Queen.” No municipality bears the name King, although there is a Kingsville -- and a Crownsville, too.
Prince George’s County is a suburban haven that borders the bustling metropolis of Washington, D.C. The county was officially charted on April 23, 1696 and named for Prince George of Denmark, consort to Queen Anne of England.
Among the sites travelers can visit in the county are such historic homes as Darnall’s Chance House Museum, where Daniel Carroll (a signer of the U.S. Constitution) and his brother John (the first Catholic bishop in America) were born; Marietta House Museum, the home of Judge Gabriel Duvall, a former associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and comptroller of the U.S. Treasury; Montpelier Mansion, where George and Martha Washington were said to have spent a lot of time; and Riversdale, perhaps the only house in America built by Belgian nobility and patterned after an 18th-century Belgian mansion.
Prince George’s County also boasts a site with key ties to American aviation history. Visitors can stop by the College Park Aviation Museum, located at the world’s oldest continuously operating airport, to learn about how the Wright brothers taught the Army’s first pilots how to fly. For those whose interests are a little more “down to earth” -- and back to nature -- try a stop at the National Wildlife Visitor Center in Laurel, which features interactive displays that delight visitors of all ages.
Prince George’s County was actually carved out of Calvert County, which is part of Southern Maryland. The county seat of Calvert County is the tiny burg of Prince Frederick, named in 1722 in honor of the eldest son of King George II. Stop by the county courthouse during a drive through town or visit the local tourism office. There you’ll find brochures about a variety of Calvert County attractions, including the waterside town of Solomons, an island community known for boating and fishing; Calvert Cliffs, where would-be archaeologists can hunt for fossils; Battle Creek Cypress Swamp, a nature center that is home to the northernmost naturally occurring stand of bald cypress trees in America; and Calvert Marine Museum, which highlights maritime history and life along the Patuxent River and Chesapeake Bay.
More natural wonders can be found in Queen Anne’s County on the Eastern Shore, named for England’s reigning monarch at the time the county was chartered (1706). The county’s visitors center, located at Kent Narrows, provides a wonderful introduction to Maryland’s Eastern Shore. If your interests veer toward shopping or golf, Queenstown has it in the bag. The town boasts Prime Outlets Queenstown, where shoppers can stock up on goods from Liz Claiborne, L.L. Bean, Hanes, Lenox, Vanity Fair, Nike and a variety of other well-known manufacturers. Neighboring Queenstown Harbor Links is a golfer’s delight.
Queenstown is also home to the county’s first courthouse. Built in 1708, the structure functioned as both the town hall and the courthouse. Those with an interest in history -- and a desire to see just how Queen Anne really looked -- might want to check out the bronze statue of Her Highness that stands before the county courthouse. Princess Anne of Britain dedicated the statue at the courthouse, which has been in continuous use since 1782.
Princess Anne has her own namesake in another Eastern Shore county. The town of Princess Anne, named in 1733 for the then-24-year-old daughter of King George II, is the seat of Somerset County and boasts an attractive historic district that’s the perfect site for a walking tour. The main feature here is the Teackle Mansion. Built in 1802, this was the home of Littleton Dennis Teackle, one of the area’s most influential men in the early 19th century. Among its many features is a drawing room with an elaborate plaster ceiling and a kitchen that boasts a seven-foot fireplace with a beehive oven. The mansion is the hub of activity during Olde Princess Anne Days, an annual event that takes place the second weekend of October and includes tours of historic homes.
Beautiful -- albeit newer -- homes can be found along the winding roads of Kingsville, halfway across the state in Baltimore County. This county is home to the farms where many of the state’s noted Thoroughbreds are raised. And if you travel U.S. Route 1 between Towson and Kingsville, then go north on Jerusalem Road and on to Jericho Road, you’ll find the Jericho Covered Bridge. Built in 1864, the single-span bridge stretches over Gunpowder Falls and is open to traffic 24 hours a day.
On the subject of traffic . . . One of the state’s best-attended events is the Maryland Renaissance Festival, which is open on weekends from August through October. The festival manages to recreate the atmosphere of a medieval fair, complete with jousting tournaments (a perfect way to profile Maryland’s state sport), strolling minstrels and enough food to feed a king and his entire court. The festival is held, appropriately enough, in the town of Crownsville, just outside Annapolis.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT SPECIFIC AREAS, THE PUBLIC MAY CONTACT:
• Prince George’s County: 301-925-8300 www.visitprincegeorges.com
• Calvert County: 410-535-4583 www.ecalvert.com
• Queen Anne’s County: 410-604-2100 www.discoverqueenannes.com
• Somerset County: 410-651-2968 www.visitsomerset.com
• Baltimore County: 410-296-4886 www.visitbacomd.com